Water and milk are two of the most important beverages for children to drink. Milk should be limited to less than 24 ounces per day, but the amount of water a child should drink changes based on their age, activity level, and environment. Water positively affects the body in multiple ways: it is good for the bones, joints, & teeth; helps maintain a healthy weight; and can help regulate mood, memory, and attention.
Water intake is recommended starting at the age of 6 months old. These infants should be given about 4-8 ounces of water per day until 12 months old, but the rest of their fluid intake should come from breastmilk or formula. Between the ages of 1-3 years old, 4 cups of fluids is the recommendation for daily hydration. For children 4-8 years old, 5 cups of fluids is recommended, and children older than 8 years old should drink 7-8 cups of fluids daily. Keep in mind, these amounts may change with high levels of activity or when playing in a hot and humid environment. Some signs of dehydration may include decreased urine output, <6 wet diapers in 24 hours, overly sleepy and irritable mood, dry lips, headaches, and several other symptoms.
Be wary of other available beverages such as juice, flavored milk, sports drinks, and soda; these options are high in sugar and can contribute to cavities, weight gain, and more. Instead, make drinking water fun by infusing fruits, using special water bottles or cups, and snacking on vegetables and fruits with high water content (ex. cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries). Your child looks to you as an example of what to do, so remember to drink water with them!
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). (January 27, 2020). Choose Water for Healthy Hydration. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Choose-Water-for-Healthy-Hydration.aspx